Expressing deep sadness at the loss of a hotelier extraordinaire and dear friend, Relais & Châteaux Africa Director, Annie-Claude Bergonzoli, said: “I am proud to have worked with her for so many wonderful years and look back with fondness on all the beautiful memories we shared together. Each and every day she was an inspiration to us all and she took every step of her life with style and grace! Liz is simply irreplaceable and through her profound knowledge and advice that she kindly passed on to us all she will never be forgotten. Her touch will live on as a beacon of inspiration to present and future hoteliers!”
Published: January 28th, 2015
By Tourism Update on 28 Jan 2015
The tourism industry has paid tribute to veteran hotelier, Liz McGrath, 91, who died at her home in Johannesburg on Saturday following a short illness.
Fedhasa Cape Chairman, Rob Kucera, said: “The hospitality industry is greatly saddened by the news of Liz McGrath’s passing. Liz was a true visionary and will be missed for her passionate support of the South African tourism industry. As an individual, she encapsulated the essence of sophistication and this was reflected in the signature hotels that she added to The Collection. Fedhasa Cape would like to extend our condolences to her family and a message of sincere appreciation to her colleagues and staff for their commitment in keeping Liz’s vision alive.”
Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said: “Liz’s passing is a loss to the tourism industry and she will be fondly remembered as the first lady of tourism in South Africa.”
The “Amazing Mrs M”, as her staff called her, owned three five-star hotels, together known as “The Collection by Liz McGrath”. The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay, The Marine in Hermanus and The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town are all members of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux group. In 2013 she also upgraded and took over the management of the Matjiesfontein Hotel.
Devastated by the sudden death of her husband, McGrath in 1988 – at an age when most people retire – revamped Plettenberg Bay’s old Lookout Hotel, which the family owned, into the exclusive The Plettenberg. She bought The Cellars-Hohenort four years later and The Marine followed suit. She confessed that she had never meant to buy more hotels but that her love of restoring old buildings had got the better of her. She listed decor, food and gardening as her passions and was known to be a perfectionist with a hands-on approach, spending time every month in each of her hotels.
In 1997, McGrath was named Woman to Watch by The National Foundation for Woman Business Owners and Fortune magazine in Paris. In 2008, she received The Woman of the Year Award during the annual Relais & Châteaux congress, followed in 2010 by the Relais & Garden Trophy for the gardens at The Cellars-Hohenort.
McGrath’s funeral takes place on January 30 at 14h30 at the Rosebank Catholic Church in Johannesburg. A memorial service will be held in Cape Town at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Newlands at 14h30 on February 3.